OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5366 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING COURT OPERATIONS.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes a number of changes to court procedures, including:

1. prohibiting a parent, guardian, or responsible adult who brings a restraining or civil protection order application as next friend of someone under age 18 from speaking for the applicant at a hearing except for good cause;

2. allowing the court to consider additional information in a report from the Judicial Branch's family services unit at a hearing on a restraining order;

3. providing that an ex parte civil protection order does not continue if a party requests a postponement of the hearing on the order unless the parties agree to it or the court orders it for good cause;

4. changing the information on domestic violence counseling that courts must provide to people who apply for restraining orders;

5. eliminating a $2 fee for filing with the court an appraiser's assessment of land taken for public use ( 7); and

6. making technical changes by updating references to federal law ( 1-3).

*House Amendment “A” (1) eliminates provisions changing the requirements placed on a party on whose behalf a deposition is taken; allowing the Judicial Branch to use certain bond proceeds for a juvenile court in Waterford; specifying that a parent, guardian, or responsible adult must make a restraining or civil protection order application on behalf of someone under age 18; allowing such a person to make the required affidavit on behalf of the minor or an incompetent person; and allowing the court to appoint a responsible adult for a minor who is a respondent and appears in court without a parent or guardian and (2) adds provisions allowing a parent, guardian, or responsible adult to testify as a witness at a hearing even if the person cannot speak on the minor's behalf and changing the information courts provide about domestic violence counseling.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016, except technical changes are effective upon passage.

4 & 6 — RESTRAINING AND CIVIL PROTECTION ORDERS

The law allows a person to apply for a:

1. restraining order, if he or she is a family or household member subjected to continuous threat of physical pain or physical injury, stalking, or pattern of threatening by another family or household member or

2. civil protection order, if he or she is a victim of sexual abuse, sexual assault, or stalking and cannot obtain a restraining order.

The bill prohibits a parent, guardian, or responsible adult who brings an application for one of these orders as next friend of someone under age 18 from speaking for the applicant at a hearing except for good cause showing why the applicant cannot speak on his or her own behalf. But the bill allows such a person to testify as a witness at a hearing on the application.

Restraining Orders

When issuing an ex parte order (an order issued before a hearing, when one of the parties is not present), the law allows the court to consider relevant publicly available court records. At a hearing on the application, the bill allows the court to consider a report from the Judicial Branch's family services unit that may include:

1. existing or prior protection orders from the protection order registry;

2. outstanding arrest warrants for the respondent;

3. his or her risk level as determined by a risk assessment tool used by the branch's Court Support Services Division;

4. information about a pending or disposed family matters case involving the applicant and respondent; and

5. information on pending or past criminal cases in which the respondent was convicted of a violent crime (including an incident resulting in physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; threatened violence constituting fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault including stalking or a pattern of threatening; verbal abuse or argument with a present danger and likelihood that physical violence will occur; or cruelty to animals).

The bill requires that both the applicant and respondent receive this report.

Civil Protection Orders

The law requires scheduling a hearing on an application for a civil protection order within 14 days. Under the bill, if either party requests a postponement, any ex parte order issued by the court does not continue unless the parties agree to it or the court orders it for good cause.

4 & 5 — COURT NOTICE ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COUNSELING

Current law requires the court to provide people who apply for a restraining order in a domestic violence situation with contact information for domestic violence counselors and counseling organizations. The bill specifies that the counselors must (1) be engaged in a domestic violence agency; (2) have undergone at least 20 hours of related training and be certified as a counselor by the training agency; (3) be under the control of a direct supervisor of a domestic violence agency; and (4) primarily engage in giving advice, counsel, and assistance to, and advocacy for, domestic violence victims.

Instead of counseling organizations, the bill requires the courts to provide information about domestic violence agencies, which are offices, shelters, host homes, or agencies that (1) assist domestic violence victims through crisis intervention, emergency shelter referral, and medical and legal advocacy and (2) meet Department of Social Services' criteria for providing these services.

The bill specifies that courts must give this information, and information on how to continue an order beyond its initial period, to every restraining order applicant.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

40

Nay

2

(03/11/2016)